Orchestral Workshops in Sunderland Schools and a Big Orchestra Day for Young Musicians

Emma Mapplebeck of Sunderland Symphony Orchestra, playing cello

Sunderland Symphony Orchestra (SSO) and Sunderland Youth and Community Orchestra are taking great strides to enthuse young musicians to participate in orchestral music.

As a feature of SSO’s “Coming of Age” project, which celebrates the orchestra’s 18th year and is supported by Arts Council England and Sunderland Music Hub, new orchestral workshops will take place in Sunderland schools this February and March.

The workshops lead up to a Big Orchestra Day to be held at Southwick Primary School on the morning of Saturday, 9th March.

Emma Mapplebeck, who will lead the orchestral workshops at St Anthony’s Academy, Southmoor Academy, and JF Kennedy Primary School, said: “It’s all about playing in a big orchestra. We are expecting over 100 young musicians at each workshop from twelve schools altogether, and over 200 young musicians for the Big Orchestra Day itself.”

Big Orchestra Day will be conducted by Sunderland Symphony Orchestra Musical Director, David Milner. With the orchestra playing music that tells stories from Grieg’s In The Hall of the Mountain King from Peer Gynt; and Mussorgsky’s Night on Bare Mountain.

Emma, who is also Musical Director of the Sunderland Youth and Community Orchestra, and plays cello for the Sunderland Symphony Orchestra added: “The Big Orchestra Day will be the first time we’ve worked with so many schools together.”

Sunderland Music Hub, which is funded by the Department for Education and Arts Council and managed by Together for Children, works with a range of partners to deliver a programme of music education opportunities for children and young people across Wearside.

Rebecca Pedlow, Sunderland Music Hub manager at Together for Children, said: “We’re very pleased to be working with the two orchestras to improve the musical skills of children and young people. Opportunities like this spark the interest of young people to play instruments in an orchestra.”

Joy Lowther, SSO Secretary, violinist and retired head teacher, said: “This will be the first time we’ve worked with so many schools, but it isn’t a one-off. After the workshops and the Big Orchestra Day in March, we’re planning more orchestral workshops in schools in May and June, leading up to a show-case event and matinée concert by both orchestras, including a performance of Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf by Sunderland Symphony Orchestra at the Sunderland Empire on Sunday, 14th July. The workshops in May and June, and the matinée at the Sunderland Empire will be an opportunity for participating schools to develop, exhibit and perform a variety of creative work in art and music.”

Matthew Burge, Development Manager for SSO, said: “We’re delivering these orchestral workshops, the Big Orchestra Day, and the wider arts and music workshops, showcase event and concert at the Sunderland Empire in wide partnership with individuals, schools, and organisations sharing interests in the development of children’s and young people’s orchestral music skills and creative capacity in Sunderland.

“We aim to be inclusive and we’re seeking wider participation and audience diversity. The orchestras are voluntary, and the time and expertise that members put in is quite extraordinary. We’re very grateful to be supported by Arts Council England, Sunderland Council, a wide range of charitable donors, and to be working with Sunderland Music Hub.”

Following a very successful Christmas concert the orchestra is also rehearsing for their Spring into Jazz concert at West Park Church on Saturday, 23rd March.


For more information on how to get involved with Sunderland Symphony Orchestra, orchestral workshops, the Big Orchestra Day and future events and concerts, please visit www.sunderlandso.org.uk or email orchchair@btinternet.com




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